Cavernous Angioma

A cavernous angioma is a condition whereby a collection of small blood vessels in the central nervous system become both irregular and enlarged, taking on a characteristic honeycomb shape. Cavernous angiomas are also called cavernous malformations, cavernous angiomas, cavernomas, intracranial vascular malformations or cavernous hemangiomas.

Cavernous angiomas can cause headaches, stroke, seizures, or neurological deficits. They may, however, have no symptoms at all.

These blood vessel malformations can occur in the spinal cord, the covering of the brain (dura), or the nerves of the skull. Cavernous malformations range in size from less than one-quarter inch to three or four inches.

Cavernous Angioma Symptoms

People with cavernous angiomas may actually experience no symptoms at all. When symptoms do occur, they often are related to the location of the malformation and the strength of the malformation’s walls. The type of neurological deficiency is associated with the area of the brain or spinal cord that the cavernous malformation affects. Symptoms may appear and subside as the cavernous malformation changes in size due to bleeding and reabsorption of blood. People with cavernous angiomas may experience the following:

  • Balance problems
  • Headaches
  • Memory and attention problems
  • Seizures
  • Vision problems
  • Weakness in arms or legs

Cavernous Angioma Facts

  • At least 30 percent of people with cavernous angiomas will develop symptoms, most of them in their 20s or 30s.
  • Up to 40 percent of solitary cavernous malformations may have an associated venous malformation.
  • At least 20 percent of those with cavernous angiomas have the familial form of the illness. The familial form is associated with Hispanic heritage, multiplicity of lesions and a demonstrated propensity for growth of lesions. The latter two symptoms are seen less often with the sporadic form of the illness.
  • Cavernous angiomas account for an estimated 8-15 percent of all intracranial and spinal vascular malformations.
  • Cavernous angiomas hemorrhage at an estimated rate of approximately 0.7-1.7 percent per lesion each year.
  • Diagnosis by age: age 20 and younger: 25-30 percent; age 20-40: 60 percent; age 40 and older: 10-15 percent.
  • If a parent has familial cavernous angioma, his or her child has a 50 percent chance of developing this condition.
  • The incidence of cavernous angiomas is estimated at one in 100-200 people.

Getting Diagnosed

Our team of specialists provide thorough neurological evaluations using the latest diagnostic technology including CT angiography and 3-D angiography.

We work very closely with the departments of Neurosurgery, Interventional Neuroradiology, Neurology and Radiation Oncology, as well as the Neurocritical Care Center and Stroke Center to ensure an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate treatment for the best outcome.

Your Path to Health and Wellness Starts Here

The Brain Aneurysm Center and Cerebrovascular Surgery and Endovascular Neurosurgery Center of Northwell Health Neuroscience Institute combines advanced technical knowledge and cutting-edge procedures for diagnosing and treating arteriovenous malformations, ruptured and non-ruptured aneurysms, carotid artery dissection and related conditions.


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